STEM students refused to work at Google and Amazon because of Project Nimbus

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More than 1,100 self-identified STEM students and young workers from over 120 universities have signed a pledge that they will not take jobs or internships at Google or Amazon until these companies end their participation in Project Nimbus, a $1.2 billion contract to provide cloud computing services and infrastructure to the Israeli government.

Those taking the pledge included undergraduate and graduate students from Stanford, UC Berkeley, the University of San Francisco and San Francisco State University. Some students from these schools also attended an anti-Project Nimbus rally with tech workers and activists outside Google’s San Francisco office on Wednesday.

According to data from career service College Transitions, which was compiled using publicly available data from LinkedIn, Amazon and Google are the top employers for graduates of top STEM schools. By 2024, 485 UC Berkeley graduates and 216 Stanford graduates work at Google, according to the data.

The pledge, which represents the latest backlash against Google and Amazon, was organized by No Tech for Apartheid (NOTA), a coalition of tech workers and activists from the Muslim grassroots movement MPower Change and the advocacy group Jewish Voice for Peace. Since 2021, NOTA has advocated for Google and Amazon to boycott and divest from Project Nimbus and any other work for the Israeli government.

“Palestinians already suffer from Israeli surveillance and violence,” the pledge states. “By expanding public cloud computing capacity and providing their cutting-edge technology to the Israeli occupation government and military, Amazon and Google are helping make Israeli apartheid more efficient, more violent, and even deadlier for Palestinians.”

Sam, who asked to be identified only by his first name for fear of professional repercussions, says he signed the letter as a 2023 graduate of Cornell University’s computer science master’s program and a recent member of the tech workforce.

He told WIRED that he was inspired to do this work after seeing friends in graduate school who “thought one way privately” but then “went on to careers at these big tech firms.”

“I know a lot of people who have no values, but when someone looks at the starting salary, it puts your principles to the test a bit,” Sam said.

Naomi Hardy-Nji, a communications major and computer science student at the University of San Francisco, said she heard about the letter while attending the school’s three-week camp calling for disclosure and divestment from companies funding the war in Gaza.

Hardy-Nujie said she signed the letter because executives at Google and Amazon have been reluctant to address protesters’ demands. But she said change “must start from the bottom.”

NOTA has organized a number of actions targeting Project Nimbus over the past several months. NOTA organizer Eddie Hatfield was fired from Google in March after he interrupted the managing director of Google Israel at a Google-sponsored tech conference in New York. More than 50 Google employees were later fired after staging a sit-in against Project Nimbus at Google’s New York and Sunnyvale offices, also organized by NOTA.

Google has claimed that Project Nimbus is not classified or “directed” to military work, but various document leaks have linked the contract to work for Israel’s military. Google and Amazon did not immediately respond to WIRED’s request for comment.

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